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Boston mayor bashes NYC for vaccine mandate, compares it to slavery

Boston Mayor Kim Janey encouraged people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but is against imposing a mandate.

Published: August 4, 2021 4:32pm

Updated: August 4, 2021 5:43pm

Acting Mayor of Boston Kim Janey compared New York City's COVID-19 vaccination mandate to slavery, the Jim Crow era, and "birtherism," but noted that she wants people to get the vaccine.

Janey responded to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's vaccine mandate for indoor venues, restaurants, and gyms, WCVB reported.

"We want to make sure that we are giving every opportunity for folks to get vaccinated. When it comes to what businesses may choose to do, we know that those types of things are difficult to enforce when it comes to vaccine," she told WCVB.

"There's a long history in this country of people needing to show their papers," Janey continued. "During slavery, post-slavery, as recent as you know what immigrant population has to go through here. We heard Trump with the birth certificate nonsense. Here we want to make sure that we are not doing anything that would further create a barrier for residents of Boston or disproportionally impact BIPOC [black, indigenous and people of color] communities."

She added: "Instead, you want to lean in heavily with partnering with community organizations, making sure that everyone has access to the lifesaving vaccine. As it relates to people who want to encourage their workforce to get vaccinated. We certainly support that."

Janey, the first woman and first African American to serve as Boston's mayor, received criticism from other mayoral candidates, who she is running against for a full term.

"When we are combating a deadly virus & vaccine hesitancy, this kind of rhetoric is dangerous. Showing proof of vaccination is not slavery or birtherism. We are too close to give ground to COVID. Science is science. It's pretty simple - Vax up and mask up," City Councilor Andrea Campbell tweeted.

"There is a history in this country of denying Black and brown people access to critical care and vaccines," she continued. "Our city leadership should be working to ensure our communities are vaccinated and healthy."

City Councilor Michelle Wu wrote in a statement, "Anyone in a position of leadership should be using that position to build trust in vaccines."

"If we want to get serious about addressing vaccine hesitancy, slowing the spread of the Delta (and subsequent) variants, and keeping our families, friends, and neighbors safe, then we need to take bold and effective action," City Council President Pro Tempore Matt O'Malley tweeted. "We should be doing this in Boston."

Janey's office later responded with a statement.

"Earlier today, I pointed out several hurdles facing communities of color with lower vaccination rates. These hurdles should not be excuses, but we must consider our shared history as we work to ensure an equitable public health and economic recovery.

"While there are no current plans for business sector vaccination mandates, we are using data to inform targeted public health strategies. This includes meeting with restaurants and bars to discuss overlaps between their clientele and new COVID-19 case trends. We are working with the hospitality sector to provide vaccine access and information for customers in the form of signage, social media graphics and on-site vaccination clinics.

"COVID-19 cases have increased in Boston with the emergence of the Delta variant, but we are still well below threshold levels that have guided policy decisions throughout the pandemic. Work with our business community will continue, as we learn to live with COVID-19."

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